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In August, a British man was sent to jail after defrauding two women of over £300,000 ($455,300) through online dating sites. He had convinced them that he was a diplomat and that a US marine general had fallen in love with them, causing one woman to pawn jewelry, empty her life savings, sell her car, and take out loans to help this general move to the UK. She got nothing.

dating-conman

In 2011, the Internet Crime Complaint Center estimated that the online dating scamming “industry” was worth over $50 million, but it’s likely much higher than that, due to the difficulty of making a good estimate. People are often ashamed to come forward and admit that they’ve been duped. It’s not a good feeling to have been taken advantage of, and a scheme that’s so obvious in hindsight is even harder to admit to.

Don’t become one of these numbers! If you date online, take precautions to protect yourself. Here are six things to keep in mind to help you spot and avoid scammers on online dating sites.

Know if You’re at Risk

Anyone can be the target and victim of these scams—men, women, young, old, gay, straight, white, black, Asian, Hispanic… no one is off limits. But the FBI states that women who are “over 40, divorced, widowed, and/or disabled” are prime targets for scammers. If you fall into this category, be especially wary of people that you meet through dating websites. Online dating can be difficult for women Here's What Dating Sites Are Like If You're A Woman Here's What Dating Sites Are Like If You're A Woman As an experiment I set up accounts on three of the more popular free dating websites, then spoke to some women about their experiences. Here’s what happened. Read More , and scammers only add to the problem, so be vigilant when you’re meeting new people.

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The AARP also says that seniors are a common target of these scams. Again, both men and women can and have fallen victim to online dating scammers, but women tend to be targeted more aggressively. Interestingly, the AARP says that men fall victim to these scams more often, but that women are more likely to report the scam.

Profile Warning Signs

The profiles of online dating scammers can exhibit some clear signs that something is off—you just need to know what to look for. Most scammers choose victims that are older than they are, for example, so if someone who is significantly younger than you says that they’re interested, it could be cause for concern. Of course, just because someone is younger doesn’t mean that they’re a scammer; it’s just something to keep in mind.

Scammers also often list themselves as widowed (especially with a child), self-employed, or working overseas. They might also say that they live near you, but that they’re away; they could be in another country on a trip or for work, but they’ll almost certainly be somewhere far away where you can’t meet them.

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The photos used by scammers can also clue you in that something is off. If someone sends you a message and says they’d like to get to know you, save a copy of their picture and use Google’s reverse image search Check Out Some More Uses Of A Reverse Image Search Using TinEye [Chrome] Check Out Some More Uses Of A Reverse Image Search Using TinEye [Chrome] Image recognition is getting better by the day. Perhaps, that’s why we keep talking about it so much. The reverse search engine that usually gets most of the clicks is TinEye. We didn’t miss out... Read More  to see if anyone has posted about that photo being used for a scam. If that image shows up on other profiles with different names, you should be suspicious. It’s possible that it’s someone looking for an affair on a dating site 3 Reasons Why The Ashley Madison Hack Is A Serious Affair 3 Reasons Why The Ashley Madison Hack Is A Serious Affair The Internet seems ecstatic about the Ashley Madison hack, with millions of adulterers' and potential adulterers' details hacked and released online, with articles outing individuals found in the data dump. Hilarious, right? Not so fast. Read More , but it could also be a scammer. If you receive other photos, and anything seems off, be wary.

Early Warning Signs to Watch For

Even if someone’s profile looks legit, there are other signs to keep an eye out for, especially during the beginning of your communication. For example, scammers will often ask you to communicate with them outside of the dating site—via email, through Facebook, or even on Skype. These methods give them better access to you and can help them gather additional information that they can use to con you.

Don’t fall for it: there’s nothing wrong with staying in touch via the dating site.

Scammers are good at being charming and saying all the right things—and they start it fast. They have a lot of victims to get through, so they’re going to try to move things along as quickly as possible. They’ll hit you with the full force of their charm; they’ll say sweet things, compliment you a lot, and talk about how perfect you are for each other within the first couple weeks. Think about if you would find it strange for someone to be acting like this if you just met in real life. If someone was expressing over-the-top love and passion within a couple weeks, you’d be worried.

suspicious-look-laptop

Early on in a courting relationship, you’ll probably ask a lot of questions, even basic ones like “how tall are you?” or “what do you do for a living?” If the person you’re talking to is avoiding these basic questions, that should be a big red flag. Many scammers will be prepared to answer these and even more complicated questions, but if you can’t get answers from a suitor, you should be suspicious.

Communicative Issues

While there are online dating scammers from all over the world, a significant number of them come from non-English-first-language countries, which means that sometimes there will be communicative markers that indicate your suitor isn’t who they say they are. If their profile says they’ve lived in Ohio their entire lives, but they’re using non-standard English, or have notably poor grammar, that could be a warning sign (think of the kinds of errors you’d see in a Nigerian scam email Do Nigerian Scam Emails Hide A Terrible Secret? [Opinion] Do Nigerian Scam Emails Hide A Terrible Secret? [Opinion] Another day, another spam email drops into my inbox, somehow working its way around the Windows Live spam filter that does such a good job of protecting my eyes from all of the other unsolicited... Read More ).

This can become especially evident in an email conversation 5 Examples To Help You Spot A Fraud Or Fake Email 5 Examples To Help You Spot A Fraud Or Fake Email The shift from spam to phishing attacks is noticeable, and is on the rise. If there's a single mantra to keep in mind, it's this -- the number one defense against phishing is awareness. Read More or on the phone, where they need to spontaneously come up with things to say. This is difficult for non-native speakers. Obviously, there are plenty of non-native speakers out there who are sincerely looking for a relationship, and they could very well be from heritage speaking communities in the United State or Britain. This isn’t a dead giveaway, but it’s something to watch out for.

Not Being Able to Meet

While the British scammer mentioned in the introduction to this article met his victims in person, most scammers will avoid face-to-face meetings at all costs. Even if they say they live near you, they’ll say they’re out of town and won’t be able to meet. They might even set up a time to meet and then say they were held up by something else.

chat-windows-online

Of course, some people are just shy or are nervous about meeting people that they’ve met online—this isn’t anything out of the ordinary (it’s also possible that they’re trying to avoid getting caught by a spouse Ashley Madison: What Happens Now We Know You're A Cheater Ashley Madison: What Happens Now We Know You're A Cheater The Ashley Madison dating site was recently hacked by hackers who threatened to leak the entire database unless the site closed. This week, the database has been leaked. Are your indiscretions about to become public? Read More ). However, repeated excuses at the last minute are a definite warning sign. Some scammers will use similar excuses for avoiding phone conversations, though many will talk to you on the phone before reeling you in for the scam.

Asking for Financial Information or Money

This is the big one. If the person you’re talking to is who they say they are, they almost certainly will not ask you for money or financial details. “How much money do you make?” is not a question that a sincere person is likely to ask on a first date. Asking for any other financial information—where you bank, anything about your credit cards, how much you have in savings—should be a big warning sign. Online dating websites aren’t the most secure Ashley Madison Leak No Big Deal? Think Again Ashley Madison Leak No Big Deal? Think Again Discreet online dating site Ashley Madison (targeted primarily at cheating spouses) has been hacked. However this is a far more serious issue than has been portrayed in the press, with considerable implications for user safety. Read More , so sharing any sensitive information might be a bad idea anyway.

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If they ask you for money, run. That’s almost a sure sign that you’re talking to a scammer. The most common reasons that they give for needing money are not being able to afford a passport, visa, other travel documents, or plane tickets (often to come see you); an emergency stay in the hospital that requires a huge sum of money; getting robbed while traveling; or not being able to access their money from abroad. There’s a huge variety of reasons that you could get. The point isn’t that the reason for needing money is strange—it’s that they’re asking you for money at all.

That just shouldn’t happen.

Because the profiles that scammers create often say that they make a lot of money, many people get caught by thinking that they’ll be reimbursed after loaning their suitor the money. A decent salary may look like a sign of trustworthiness, but remember that you don’t have any proof that this person is who they say they are, especially if you haven’t met.

Trust Your Instincts

Most of the time, you can spot an online dating scammer by trusting your instincts—if something looks off, be extra wary. It all seems obvious in hindsight, but people want to believe in other people, and that can get in the way of our better judgment. Always be on the lookout, and be extra wary when you meet new people online. If you have suspicions, don’t ignore them. Taking these precautions can help save you thousands of dollars—and even more heartbreak.

Have you been the victim of an online romance scam? Are the signs obvious in hindsight? What tipped you off to the scam? Share in the comments below!

Image credits: internet criminal by solar22 via Shutterstock, The Telegraph, Goodluz via Shutterstock.com, wavebreakmedia via Shutterstock.com, Orange Line Media via Shuterstock.com, Ajaptp via Shutterstock.com, ArtFamily via Shutterstock.com.

  1. cc Clean
    October 24, 2016 at 2:18 am

    This is my story: I wasn't looking for a date, but came across the site by chance. I was on for a very short time when I got hit up. First by a guy that said he was a doctor, but sounded more like a moron. Within a week he was calling me 'Babe'. Soon after I was approached by another that was quite good at his craft. Exceptional actually, but there does seem to be pattern. I'd like to share my findings here, but how can I know that the scammers aren't here looking for tips?

    I will go so far as to write about an experience I had that left me quite baffled. Hopefully you can shed some light on it.

    You mentioned that we need to go with our gut feelings. This is a tip that is becoming more and more true in this day and age in general.

    The encounter I had was with a man with a picture of a naked chest as his profile picture. He provided no other picture. Most of our correspondence was , 'Hi', 'Hey', 'How you doing?' . . . quite general and quite boring, but I was curious.

    I started chatting with him shortly after I had encountered my first perpetrator (I'll call him 'suitor' for the sake of this question). There was no reason to believe that one had anything to do with the other, but I had this gut feeling that in some way this new guy (naked chest) was somehow connected.

    Anyway, 'Naked chest' asked for my number and I ignored the question. Later when my curiosity was heightened, I gave it to him. After more of the same tiresome dialect he suggested that he had been asking me out and wanted to know if we could meet up. I unknowingly missed that clue . . . non-the-less I took him up on his proposal.

    We were to meet at the market in his neighborhood. I arrived early and texted him to let me know when he got there, and that I was going to go into one of the other stores. He texted me when he arrived (later than expedited). I came out and waited, but there was no one to be seen. He texted that he had to take a call form his 'boss' and he was terribly sorry. The call would take longer than he intended. I told him I was going to grab a bite to eat, to just let me know when he was available. I finally gave up and told him I was heading home. He said "I'm so sorry". I asked if he saw me. He said 'no'. The next day I didn't hear anything. Again curiosity got the better of me. After a couple of days I said, 'If you'd like to try again, let me know, otherwise just tell me you're not interested and there would be no hard feelings.' I never heard from him again, tho I've seen him active on the site.

    For the sake of argument, I think it helpful to say, I look exactly as I do in my pictures, so it wasn't a matter of my appearance. My curiosity can't help but wonder if his 'boss' was my 'suitor'. But what would be the purpose, what would the purpose be either way?

  2. cc Clean
    October 23, 2016 at 11:56 pm

    I've read that statistics show that one in 10 people on a dating sight is a scam. My experience , however, has been more like only one out of 10 is the real deal.

    This is my story: I wasn't looking for a date, but came across the site by chance. I was on for a very short time when I got hit up. First by a guy that said he was a doctor, but sounded more like a moron. Within a week he was calling me 'Babe'. Soon after I was approached by another that was quite good at his craft. Exceptional actually, but there does seem to be pattern. I'd like to share my findings here, but how can I know that the scammers aren't here looking for tips?

    I will go so far as to write about an experience I had that left me quite baffled. Hopefully you can shed some light on it.

    You mentioned that we need to go with our gut feelings. This is a tip that is becoming more and more true in this day and age in general.

    The encounter I had was with a man with a picture of a naked chest as his profile picture. He provided no other picture. Most of our correspondence was , 'Hi', 'Hey', 'How you doing?' . . . quite general and quite boring, but I was curious.

    I started chatting with him shortly after I had encountered my second perpetrator (I'll call him 'suitor' for the sake of this question). There was no reason to believe that one had anything to do with the other, but I had this gut feeling that in some way this new guy (naked chest) was somehow connected.

    Anyway, 'Naked chest' asked for my number and I ignored the question. Later when my curiosity was heightened, I gave it to him. After more of the same tiresome dialect he suggested that he had been asking me out and wanted to know if we could meet up. I unknowingly missed that clue . . . non-the-less I took him up on his proposal.

    We were to meet at the market in his neighborhood. I arrived early and texted him to let me know when he got there, and that I was going to go into one of the other stores. He texted me when he arrived (later than expedited). I came out and waited, but there was no one to be seen. He texted that he had to take a call form his 'boss' and he was terribly sorry. The call would take longer than he intended. I told him I was going to grab a bite to eat, to just let me know when he was available. I finally gave up and told him I was heading home. He said "I'm so sorry". I asked if he saw me. He said "no'" The next day I didn't hear anything. Again curiosity got the better of me. After a couple of days I said, 'If you'd like to try again, let me know, otherwise just tell me you're not interested and there would be no hard feelings.' I never heard from him again, tho I've seen him active on the site.

    For the sake of argument, I think it helpful to say, I look exactly as I do in my pictures, so it wasn't a matter of my appearance. My curiosity can't help but wonder if his 'boss' was my 'suitor'. But what would be the purpose, what would the purpose be either way?

    Collier Circle

    • Dann Albright
      October 26, 2016 at 9:31 pm

      That is pretty strange, you're right. Definitely seem suspicious, though. Glad to hear you're being careful!

  3. Lynn
    October 23, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    I am not sure- but I believe this guy is trying to set up trust. He has sent me about 15 pictures- including one of his daughter- nothing came up in various searches- an architect who first had to travel to Paris- who sent me pictures of he posing w the landmarks I asked( but he could have these in his arsenal just in case- I asked him to send me a picture of him lying in bed- he did-there is someone by his name listed in his town in the white pages- his daughters name when searched has this guy's name as a relative. His English reflects his education very well spoken- but is is Acraa Ghana surveying the land as an architecture before the hotel is built- dropped his phone- does not have money on him for his iphone6- I told him to buy a throw away prepaid if it was important to speak w me. He asked again- I refused- he apologized that he bothered me and continued to talk to me. His communication is sparse now saying the interconnect is bad in Ghana. I have questioned him about the weather- he is on the mark and he called me both from Paris and Acraa- both with the correct country code- I am cautious but confused

    • Dann Albright
      October 26, 2016 at 9:30 pm

      That's a tough call. There are quite a few signs that it could be a scam, but his responsiveness to your requests seems like a good sign. Either way, be very cautious, especially if he starts asking for things from you.

  4. Jerome Martin
    October 14, 2016 at 3:21 am

    I was scammed on surge ! Cute younger guy chatted for a bit and seemed fine. Then asked me to do a hookup Id for LGBT offenders . He gave me the link to get verified and it said it was free but needed a cc to validate me. So like a dummy I used my only cc I had ( bank card ) and the sight charged me 39.99. I told him what it did and he sent me another link to clear it and get my money back, but that link asked for my cc info again. I told him this and he said I had to put it in again to get my money back and get the free trail. So I did but my card was declined , I freaked out thinking that my account was wipe clean out. So I checked my account and it was only the 39.99 taken out still . I told him this then he ask how much money my card had on it ( red flag ) I told him enough lol . I call my bank and closed my debit card and have a new one coming in 3 days. I feel I got lucky and that he was planning somehow to clean out my bank account . So I am on the look out now that's for sure. People suck!!

    • Dann Albright
      October 21, 2016 at 8:53 pm

      Sorry to hear about that! I'm glad you didn't get scammed for all you're worth. It could have been a lot worse. Thanks for sharing your experience—hopefully it helps someone else avoid the same fate!

  5. Sad
    August 29, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    It's funny, (not really) but you believe you are getting conned and yet you can't believe that it can actually happen to you. I met a fellow on a dating site - made a good connection, gave him my phone number, he wanted to send me something so I gave him my home address and I got flowers and chocolates. I was on cloud nine. He didn't want to meet until we talked and knew we had a connection. Made sense, I had never been on a dating site before. After a very short time he called be sweetheart in his emails/texts and I liked his compliments. He is an engineer and was submitting different bids. Had one accepted in Turkey - and would be flying out the following week to set up the initial contacts and set up the working plan. He is there for less than a week, and a project that was happening in the US was having problems can I send him $11,000. to cover off. I don't have that kind of money, but I had saved $4000.00 that I could lend him till he gets back. Next week for sure. Talk to him by phone and the project in Turkey has problems and he now must pay for repairs to a machine that one of his employees broke. Needs more money. I don't have any. Every time he phones, texts, he asks if I have come up with any solution because we are in this together. He calls and says he can come home, the Director of the project will allow him to leave so he can get his financial situation straightened out in the US. But he doesn't have the funds to purchase the ticket, could I give him the money? I do. He gets to the airport and can't get on the flight, the machinery company will not allow him to board the plane. He gets a lawyer and the lawyer discusses with machinery company, if he now buys the machinery they will allow him out of the country. He need $30,000.00 to buy the machinery and when the project is done, he can sell it and recoup some of the funds. I am suppose to go to the bank for a loan in order for this to proceed. He has no one else that can help him, so he says. I read this and I think, oh come on, are you that blind, so in love with a fictional character on the computer. Yet, I think, he is this great person, that I might be missing out on. Then what....I feel like a fool, in my gut I think I am getting screwed, and in my heart I want this person.

    • Dann Albright
      October 21, 2016 at 8:55 pm

      So sorry to hear about your experience . . . that's really rough. You're right, though; even if you're on the lookout for scams, you can still be taken advantage of. They're really good at what they do.

  6. Debbie
    August 12, 2016 at 3:28 am

    I got on our time.com looking for somebody and I found a guy who live in New York who is going to work in Egypt and this one on for for five months and I believe that's where he was and he was coming to Florida to meet me and I sent him money and actually I gave him I gave him my bank account number And he put money in it and the bank said it wasn't real so now I have a case on it from the police and the fraud department so I'm scared to see what happens to me I believed everything he said, I sent a iPhone over for his birthday and a PlayStation 4 for his daughter I was so stupid I have been so sick over this mess I just hope I do not get in trouble .

    • Dann Albright
      August 16, 2016 at 2:18 pm

      I wouldn't worry about getting in trouble; people get scammed all the time, and I don't think that's much of an issue. Also, don't be too hard on yourself; the people who do this are experts, and they know exactly which emotional triggers to use. They're really good at what they do, and you're not the first or last person to be taken advantage of.

  7. Lottalibella
    August 2, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    About two weeks ago, I (f, 33) met a guy on the "Whisper" app. He said his name was Jim, he was 31 years old and lived in Texas. I live in Germany and I am German.
    He seemed very nice and we connected really well right from the beginning. I texted with him for about five days in a row for several hours every night and enjoyed it very much. He told me that he was a computer network architect who worked from home. When I said that I think that he must be very intelligent because I could never do a job like his, he told me that I was so full of compliments that night. When I replied that I didn't want to come across as slimy, he told me: "You dont. You just seem like a girl who might be falling for a guy." Even though this wasn't the case for me (I cannot fall for someone who I haven't met in person), in order to tease him a little bit, I replied: "Maybe... for a guy like you...".
    To this he answered: "I'm hoping. Because I'm really falling for you!" Now in hindsight it really seems odd that someone would write something like this after having texted for only a few days. But then I somehow really believed him...
    One evening when we were in the middle of texting again, he wrote all of a sudden: "I have bad news. My mom just called. She thinks my Dad is having a heart attack. She dialed 911. I have to go over there immediately." He promised me that he would write me the following day (Friday), which he actually did. He told me that his Dad had actually had a heart attack and was now in hospital in intensive care and that a bypass surgery was planned for the following day (Saturday). The next time I heard from him was Sunday night. He texted me: "I don't know how to say this. My Dad didn't make it. He didn't even make it to the surgery but passed late Friday night." He also wrote that he was very busy and that it would take him a day or two until he could be on "Whisper" again. I completely believed what he told me and I didn't expect him to text me until a few days later. To my surprise, he already texted the following night again, saying that he was having a few minutes alone and that he would be glad if we could talk for a little while. He told me a little bit about the funeral arrangements and other things he and his family were occupied with at the moment. He was very sweet in what he wrote (he said it was so nice talking to me and that I was so sweet etc.) but also seemed really drained and devastated. Of course, I believed the things he told me and tried to comfort him. At some piont he said that he should leave before long but didn't want to, so we continued texting further. After about another five minutes he wrote: "I better go. I wish I could talk all night, but family calls." I responded how much I had enjoyed talking to him that night and that I wished I could be there with him in this difficult time to comfort him.
    But he never responded again! He jhas completely disappeared since then. No "Good night" or "Talk to you soon" or anything like that on this night and not a single sign from him since then.
    I already had a strange feeling that night when I didn't get a real goodbye from him, since he always used to wish me a good night before leaving. Then again, I thought that he was probabaly too devastated to pay attention to such things in this difficult time. I texted him the following night and asked if he was ok. (Of course I didn't expect long text messages from him at that point. I just wanted to know how he was doing.) No response! Then, for the following days I texted him again that I was missing him and that I was worried about him and just wanted to know if he was okay. Again no response (but also no blocking on his part.) He has just remained completely silent since he wrote me: "I better go..." this one night. Today marks the 8th day since I last heard from him and after having sent him another message last night, I have now decided not to write him again and have also deleted our conversation. By doing this I am not able to contact him any longer the only way of getting in contact again would be if he texted me. But I don't think this will happen...

    Dear Mr. Albright,

    I would love to get your opinion on this story. Do you think I have fallen victim to a romantic scam here? Considering the fact that he told me he was falling for me, only not to respond to my messages at all shortly after, but ignoring me completely instead. Or do you think that it might really be the case that the death of a close family member has such an impact on someone that he actually might not be able to communicate by writing just one short sentence in order to let the person he was allegedly falling for know how he is doing?

    Thank you so much for reading this story! I would really appreciate an answer from you.

    Best regards from Germany

    • Dann Albright
      August 11, 2016 at 3:01 pm

      That's strange . . . because he didn't ask you for money or anything, it seems unlikely to be a scam, but the behavior sounds a lot like the typical stories you hear, so it's possible that it was an aborted attempt to ask you for money. It's really hard to tell, especially when contact was just broken off. I wish I had better advice for you!

  8. C mon
    July 9, 2016 at 8:46 am

    Part Two: How can a person who has never interact with you tell you they love you. Only a month later. Never give anyone money or buy gifts for someone you don't know. If the person can only talk to you for 10 to 15 minutes on the phone everyday. Red Flag. You must interact and be a part of that persons life to build a true relationship. Don't ignore Red Flags! Those red flags are their to protect you. Plus remember you are not desperate, take your time do a background check and who gives a damn if the person is insulted because you have chosen to check what's behind the door. Your first Love should be you looking out for yourself.

  9. C mon
    July 9, 2016 at 8:37 am

    I met man from Brisbane Australia. Named Wayne Harrison who claims he works for Qantas Airline. If this man contacts you via any dating site. Women Run and I mean run real fast. He is only interested in having an affair. He is a true Sociopath! Everything he says is a lie all lies all the time. First warning sign which I ignored was when he sent me a Birthday card. But on the card he put my Address and not his. I completely ignored what was truly a Red Flag. Then I was invited to come and visit Brisbane but only when his wife left on a vacation was I invited. He stated by the way he was in the process of divorcing. I ignored this Red Flag also. If a person is not Divorce and cannot produce legal Divorce papers that you can hold in your hand and check online they filed then run. Second Red Flag. Another major Red Flag was him telling me a month later that he loved me

    • Dann Albright
      July 13, 2016 at 5:45 pm

      That doesn't sound like a scam, but sorry you went through that experience!

  10. Larry Bursee
    July 7, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    I hope someone can help me, I met someone on a gay dating site, he was the same age as me, and sent me pictures, and I thought wow, someone this handsome really is writing to me, he didn't say he was young or overseas, and said that he lives in New York, and he was an engineer and Architect and would send me pictures of construction sites that he was working at, and said that he had a firm in New York, and he didn't ask for my e-mail address until later when we got to know each other. then we exchanged number but will only use Viber as he says that he likes this service, no questions asked and I didn't mind as we were just talking, so the following week after we exchanged numbers and email address he was going to Rome to visit his mom and girls, he said that he was divorced and because he was gay, but anyways, he went to Rome for Easter and will be back in two weeks, well a week later was going to be my birthday, and he asked for my address and I did ask for his as well, and he did give me a New York Address, so again, I didn't question it, but on my birthday, he sent me roses, and I was very happy and then he send me a picture of him holding a sign saying happy birthday, I was so happy and I thought I found my dream guy, but when he was suppose to go home his mom fell down the stairs and broke her knee, so he had to prepare for her care, but then he had to go to Berlin for a meeting which they accepted him as the designer of their building and he had to go to Ghana and has been there since, we have been corresponding for several months and he keeps me informed on the progress of the building, and was suppose to be here this week, but delay in building, but now he says he ran out of funds and cannot finish the roof, he says that he had to use all of his money and several of his people have helped and asked if I can fund him 50000 dollars to help, but I said that I don't have that type of money and asked if I can get a loan and he will pay it back when he gets here, but what is bothering me know Is that he isn't being loving as he was for the past few months and he said that its because he doesn't know what is going to happen to the building, so I was thinking about him and did a google search and his pictures that he has sent me is of the famous photographer in New York, and I am confused as he didn't seem like a scammer, but the guy I have been writing to is Godfred Hesse and does anyone know if this guy is real, I know his pictures aren't but I am having such a hard time believing that he is lying to me, I can't afford the 50000 but he doesn't stop writing and he isn't begging, he is upset that he can't get this project done. Maybe I am being stupid or guidable, I don't know, and I am not that ugly looking, so I am confused, please help.

    • Dann Albright
      July 13, 2016 at 5:45 pm

      Asking you for $50,000? That definitely sounds like a con. I just can't imagine that being real. I'd recommend breaking off contact immediately. I know it's hard, but the risks are awfully high. Scammers are good at what they do, and they rarely "seem like" scammers. Sorry you're going through this!

  11. Owen
    May 3, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    Hi I met a gay man on gay Cupid he asked me for my e mail address which I have him he wanted to come over and visit me but said he only had 100 dollars so I said i would not send him his air flight personally but I would go through a travel agency which he recommended so I sent 576$ to the travel agents bank using swift bank numbers the travel agency sent me his reservation number and confirmed it then there was another problem he needed travel money so me not thinking I sent another 400$ on the day he was about to fly he said he was in a bad car accident and sent me letter to confirm it which he said his mother scanned for him also phot of him in hospital he said he will change air ticket flight when he gets better I don't know if i have been scammed or not

    • Morgan
      May 23, 2016 at 11:57 pm

      Sorry for all this situation you are going thru. But 100% sure that person is a con artist , and found you and easy target.
      I just received a communication from an wonderful-good looking gay guy from Russia asking me for money, I met him thru a gay site.
      Is been three weeks only , not enough time for this ,a friend of mine has a similar story , therefore I do have all the warnings . Needless to say , I didn't believe , so I went thru all the information on the web about gay-scam-fraud ,so after that I decided to call the FBI and report this crook : https://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/e-scams
      I hope my story will help.

    • Dann Albright
      July 13, 2016 at 5:43 pm

      Yeah, that's almost certainly a scam. I'd cease contact with this person and report him to Cupid!

  12. Leslie
    April 26, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    I ventured into the dating scene via Plenty of Fish after my divorce last year, and connected online with a very charming, pleasant-looking man who "lived" in Vancouver. His stated career was a civil engineer, he was widowed, & raising a young son on his own. He phoned me often (his number was listed as from the Vancouver area) and we spent a lot of time on Yahoo Messenger chatting daily. (I now know that moving women quickly off the dating site to a messenger site can be a red flag).
    As Dan Albright's article stated, this man was not able to meet because he had business in South Africa for several weeks. He called me daily with the South African number, keeping very close contact. I was very mixed in my thoughts. I wanted to believe that this was a burgeoning relationship, but I was also very anxious. And yes, he asked me for emergency money and against my better judgment, I sent him some. And then he asked for more a few days later; another work-related problem. I asked him questions about these issues and he always had a semi-viable excuse. But it became too much and I said I cannot do this anymore. The final straw was his request to send a large sum of money via my bank account. He sent me a "document" from his lawyer in the UK to verify that all was above board and I took it to my friend who is a lawyer. She said it was completely fraudulent (law firm's address in London was a pub), multiple spelling mistakes, false signatures, etc.). So with that and other inconsistencies I discovered like his picture on another dating site in Ontario, I confronted him about his scheme and blocked him.
    It was a difficult lesson, particularly since I was already feeling a bit vulnerable with starting to date again. I am still confounded by this man's incredible skill at bamboozling me (who is not normally gullible), and developing the illusion of a warm, caring, supportive bond.
    I reported him to the Anti-Fraud website in Canada, the local RCMP, Plenty of Fish dating site, and the other dating site in Ontario. I do not believe anything was investigated. POF had his profile still up weeks later, so no doubt he has more poor fish on his hook!

    • Dann Albright
      May 3, 2016 at 1:28 pm

      Sorry to hear about your difficulties with this! It all seems to obvious in hindsight, but I'm sure it can be very convincing in the moment. It's certainly not a rare occurrence, so it's clear that it happens to a lot of people. Thanks for sharing your story! I hope you get back to online dating soon and find some success. :-)

  13. ???? ????????
    November 8, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Hi Dann

    This is very good article to translate in another language, can you approve?

  14. Jeremy A Moats
    November 7, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    I encountered one of these scammers a year ago on a dating site. Long story short:

    She had photos that seemed way too professional. In her conversation she mentioned she had changed her hairstyle and that her phone camera was broken. Her webcam was also conveniently broken and she asked me to turn mine on.

    I TIN-EYE Searched the photos and found she was using an adult model's photos. After researching the adult model, I found that person's twitter feed and PMed her. She said "Oh, yes. You are SO BEING CATFISHED!"

    I reported this scammer's facebook profile with all the gathered evidence, reported her dating profile, and her iP ADDRESS is currently banned from facebook and the dating site.

  15. Hildegerd Haugen
    November 6, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    I seem to actually be a "target" of these kind of scammers, the first time someone tried this trick with me was with an image of us marine general James Mattis in full uniform that showed his stars and the scammer claimed he was a colonel in the us army....

    Hallo, what about being prepared do research and know the different uniforms and rank distinctions??? Anyway, even in Norway people know who General Mattis is since his comments of "fun to shoot some people and afghans don't have any manhood left anyway".

    I played along for a while, that was fun, but then blow his scam by asking if he thought his mum enjoyed anal sex and he deleted his facebook profile for just to return to me, now with an image of us army general David Petreus.

    • Dann Albright
      November 7, 2015 at 6:16 pm

      You know, I'm surprised that people choose such high-profile pictures to use for these scams. Even if they're trying to go for the military thing, you'd think they'd just find a no-name solider and use that. Mattis and Petraeus are recognizable around the world, and not just to Americans. Obviously not everyone is very advanced in their scheming. :-)

      • Hildegerd Haugen
        November 7, 2015 at 6:29 pm

        They are lazy because too often they do not have to do any work to get to peoples money, too many people want to believe them, so they just take the first high resolution images of american officers they can find in a google search, come up with a story about being a widow with a son in a school in London and go for them.

        (I wonder if Mattis and Pretraeus know their images being used in scams, but that is a different discussion).

        • Dann Albright
          November 10, 2015 at 4:23 am

          Yeah, I wonder that too. It seems like something they'd probably know about if it's happening on a regular basis, but they also have a lot of other things to worry about. :-)

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